There is no doubt that T20 cricket brings the exuberance and fearlessness of youngsters to the fore but the format has also shown that there is no substitute for the experience, which plays a vital role in tense match situations
In the ongoing IPL 2023, the likes of M.S. Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, and Piyush Chawla have proved that experiences cannot be brought from the market and they still have that hunger and desire to learn, re-invent and make an impact for their respective teams.
Many of them were almost forgotten stars before the start of the IPL 2023, but the veterans have defied age and expectations and rewound the clock with their impressive outings in the field.
MS Dhoni (41 years)
It has been nearly four years since M.S. Dhoni retired from international cricket, but the 41-year-old continues to deliver for his team Chennai Super Kings in IPL with both bat and captaincy.
The 41-year-old, who has led CSK to four titles and plays nothing except IPL, has still managed to do his magic as a lower-order enforcer, scoring 96 in 11 games so far, with a superb strike rate of 204.26, this season.
Due to his knee injury, the wicket-keeper batter is not able to run freely as he would like to but his ability to hit boundaries and sixes is still remarkable.
"I have told them, ‘This is what I am supposed to do, don’t make me run a lot’ and it has been working. This is what I need to do, happy to contribute with whatever deliveries I’m getting," said Dhoni after playing a vital cameo of 20 off 9 and leading CSK to win over Delhi Capitals on Wednesday night.
There are enough hints to show that this could be Dhoni’s last IPL season, but only time will tell his future. For the time being, the charismatic captain is giving enough moments to his fans to enjoy and cherish.
Mohit Sharma (34 years)
Right-arm pacer Mohit Sharma, who was once CSK’s leading bowler and also led India in the 50-over World Cup in 2015, suffered major setbacks in his career due to injuries but he has made a memorable comeback this season.
The 34-year-old was the net bowler for Gujarat Titans last season but the Ashish Nehra and Hardik Pandya-led side bought him in the IPL 2023 mini-auction. The pacer didn’t find a place in the Titans’ playing XI for the first few matches but once he got his chance there was just no stopping for him after that.
Making his GT debut against Punjab Kings, he claimed two wickets and got the Player of the Match award. Against Lucknow Super Giants, he mixed yorkers and slower balls very well to defend 12 runs in the final over, including taking out K.L. Rahul and Marcus Stoinis on successive deliveries, giving away just four runs to lead Gujarat to a thrilling win.
Sharma has been impressive with his off-cutters, slower deliveries and yorkers, taking 12 wickets in 8 matches, with 4/29 being his best outing so far this season.
Ishant Sharma (34 years)
Ishant Sharma, who is out of the reckoning for India even as a red-ball specialist in recent times, has showcased his skills in the ongoing season. Ishant looked in a good rhythm and got some extra bounce to pick 2-19 in Delhi’s tight four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders. He followed it up with 1-18 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Delhi Capitals’ seven-run win.
However, his most impressive performance has been against defending champions Gujarat Titans, when he successfully defended 12 runs in the last over and secured a five-run victory for his team, the Delhi Capitals. During that game, Ishant’s ripper of a delivery bamboozled Vijay Shankar, it was called by Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling coach and legendary South Africa pacer Dale Steyn as the best knuckleball he had ever seen.
In the absence of Anrich Nortje, Ishant has taken on the role of leading the pace attack for Delhi and has picked six wickets in 6 wickets.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra ARcher also in and out, the bowling lineup of Mumbai Indians have lacked that penetration and conceded 200 runs in many of their games. However, amid all this, the 34-year-old Chawla has been a bright spot for them.
After going unsold at the auction in IPL 2022, Chawla has made a sensational comeback this season and proved to everyone that he has still got it.
The experienced leg-spinner was bought by Mumbai Indians for Rs 50 lakh in the mini-auction and he has performed beyond the expectations and his low price tag. Piyush has been Rohit Sharma’s go-to bowler to provide crucial breakthroughs in the middle-order and he has been doing it incredibly well.
With his 17 wickets (highest for him in a season in IPL history), Chawla is leading the wicket tally for MI this season.
Amit Mishra is certainly not the fittest player on the field but he still has that effective googlies and leg-spin deliveries. One of all-time IPL bowling greats, Mishra is not looking to slow down and is still doing the job for his team with the ball.
The veteran leg-spinner has claimed 6 wickets in as many matches this season and registered his highest IPL score of 31 during that infamous match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Apart from Dhoni, Mohit, Ishant, Piyush and Mishra, the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin (36 years), Ajinkya Rahane (34 years), Mohammed Shami (32 years), who are also seniors pros and done well for their respective teams but since they are still active Indian cricketers, their performances should not surprise anyone.